Sticking It to the Science

[Hank Roberts recalls an exchange between Dr. Koonin, Dr. Held, and Dr. Curry.]

DR. KOONIN: All right. I have got to say, I come away, Bill, and thanks for being so clear, that this business is even more uncertain than I thought…


DR. HELD: I think you are getting the concept of radiative forcing wrong.

DR. KOONIN: Thank you. Please tell me.

Read More

Gentlemen, I don’t know what came over me. Forgive me. Forget all I said. (More and more his old self.) I don’t remember exactly what it was, but you may be sure there wasn’t a word of truth in it. (Drawing himself up, striking his chest.) Do I look like a man that can be made to suffer? Frankly? (He rummages in his pockets.) What have I done with my pipe?

A Comedy of Menace while Waiting for Godot

While I find merit in Dan Kahan’s position, I believe it downplays an important asymmetry in the strange game ClimateBallers play. Once upon a time, I tried to capture this with the help of an analogy:

Imagine a football game with many teams. There are more than two teams, but each teams has two roles. (We do not need the concept of team, only the concept of role, but I think the teams are imposed by the role. More on that another time.) A team can play offense or defense. When a team plays offense, it has to move the ball forward. When a team plays defense, it has to prevent the ball to move. Ideally, it needs to get the ball, but that is not necessary. (We could argue that it must, but not now.)

Here is another important point: offense cannot grab, defense can. Like in American football, so it’s not hard to understand. So the roles are not symmetrical, both in the ends and in the means.

To see this in strategical terms, suppose a game of Chess where one of the two players has a big edge. What should he do? According to the usual algorithm, he should seek to simplify, which in principle diminishes the dynamical possibilities from his adversary. The player who has a bad game should do the opposite, i.e. create chaos. His only way out is if his opponent makes mistakes: there are better chances if things get a little bit irrational. A very good book on this is Chess for Tigers, by Simon Webb.

Read More


I am Leaving, I am Leaving

[An old chat between me and Dr. Doom. Who was leaving?]

[willard]: you are being haunted by your nightmares
the erynies
climate blogs are erinyes
yet unreal
in our minds
you could be seeking salvation from this haunting
it’s a great myth
food for SF
read that

Read More



Perhaps you would like to be reminded of the word pinteresque:

In a typical Pinter play, we meet people defending themselves against intrusion or their own impulses by entrenching themselves in a reduced and controlled existence.

And thus we could say that while we’re waiting for Godot, some of us are pinkerly whirling.


I don’t agree that the facts as presented support your assertions

Raymond Seitz, leader of the US embassy in London, responding to Father Metcalf’s request that the US stops funding terrorists in Nicaragua, which they did for 40 years.

As reported by Harold Pinter in his Nobel Prize acceptance speech.

The tears of the world are a constant quantity. For each one who begins to weep somewhere else another stops. The same is true of the laugh. Let us not then speak ill of our generation, it is not any unhappier than its predecessors. Let us not speak well of it either. Let us not speak of it at all. It is true the population has increased.

Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot


A Theory of Scapegoating

Tom Scharf,

René Girard offers a perspective of scapegoating that might deserve due diligence,:

Humans are driven by desire for that which another has or wants (mimetic desire). This causes a triangulation of desire and results in conflict between the desiring parties. This mimetic contagion increases to a point where society is at risk; it is at this point that the scapegoat mechanism is triggered. This is the point where one person is singled out as the cause of the trouble and is expelled or killed by the group. This person is the scapegoat. Social order is restored as people are contented that they have solved the cause of their problems by removing the scapegoated individual, and the cycle begins again.

Read More


We probably could have saved ourselves, but we were too damned lazy to try very hard, and too damned cheap.

Kurt Vonnegut Jr., fictionally scientific.
Older posts RSS